Laser Therapy FAQs
What is the purpose of laser therapy?
Laser therapy, or photobiomodulation, is the process of photons entering the tissue and interacting with the cytochrome c complex within the cell mitochondria. The result of this interaction, and the point of conducting laser therapy treatments, is the biological cascade of events that leads to an increase in cellular metabolism (promoting tissue healing) and a decrease in pain. Laser therapy is used to treat acute and chronic conditions as well as post-activity recovery. It is also used as another option to prescription drugs, a tool to prolong the need for some surgeries, as well as pre and post-surgery treatment to help control pain.
Is laser therapy painful? What does laser therapy feel like?
Laser therapy treatments must be administered directly to skin, as laser light cannot penetrate through layers of clothing. You will feel a soothing warmth as the therapy is administered. Many patients receiving LightForce® Therapy Laser treatments report enjoying the experience, especially when a massage-ball treatment head is used to deliver what is often referred to as a “laser massage.”
Patients receiving treatments with higher-power lasers also frequently report a rapid decrease in pain. For someone suffering from chronic pain, this effect can be particularly pronounced. Laser therapy for pain can be a viable treatment.
Is laser therapy safe?
Class IV laser therapy (now called photobiomodulation) devices were cleared in 2004 by the FDA for the safe and efficacious reduction of pain and increasing micro-circulation. Therapy lasers are safe and effective treatment options to reduce musculoskeletal pain due to injury. The biggest risk to injury during laser therapy treatments is to the eye, which is why certified, protective eyewear is always required during LightForce® treatments.
How long does a therapy session last?
With LightForce® lasers, treatments are quick usually 3-10 minutes depending on the size, depth, and acuteness of the condition being treated. High-power lasers are able to deliver a lot of energy in a small amount of time, allowing therapeutic dosages to be achieved quickly. For patients and clinicians with packed schedules, fast and effective treatments are a must.
How often will I need to get treated with laser therapy?
Most clinicians will encourage their patients to receive 2-3 treatments per week as the therapy is initiated. There is a well-documented support that the benefits of laser therapy are cumulative, suggesting that plans for incorporating laser as part of a patient’s plan of care should involve early, frequent treatments that may be administered less frequently as the symptoms resolve.
How many treatment sessions will I need?
The nature of the condition and the patient’s response to the treatments will play a key role in determining how many treatments will be needed. Most laser therapy plans of care will involve 6-12 treatments, with more treatment needed for longer standing, chronic conditions. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan that is optimal for your condition.
How long will it take until I notice a difference?
Patients often report improved sensation, including a therapeutic warmth and some analgesia immediately after the treatment. For noticeable changes in symptoms and condition, patients should undergo a series of treatments as the benefits of laser therapy from one treatment to the next are cumulative.
Does insurance cover treatments?
Generally insurances do not reimburse for laser treatments despite there being codes that can be used to submit for the service. Laser treatments are usually handled as a cash transaction between the clinic and the patient. Average cost of a treatment varies across the country. Many clinics offer discounts when purchasing visits in packages. We recommend checking with your provider to get specific pricing.
Do I have to limit my activities?
Laser therapy will not limit a patient’s activities. The nature of a specific pathology and the current stage within the healing process will dictate appropriate activity levels. Laser will often reduce pain which will make it easier to perform different activities and will often help restore more normal joint mechanics. That being said, reduced pain should not overshadow the advice of a medical professional that understands how the laser will fit into a rehabilitation protocol when deciding how aggressively to push functional limits.